Monday, 27 April 2009

Not Much Poetry-Writing Today, But ...

... but look who happened along on Saturday.

See, my teeth are as sharp as your teeth.

See, I am much taller than you are.

What speed limit?

On Sunday I wrote a poem to add to my increasing file of '09 poems (much bigger already than my '08 poetry file. For me '08 was not a great poetry-writing year. I think I was more into writing short stories.)

And today ...

According to Becky, Ron McLarty is a writer worth checking out, and because Becky is cool and as sardonic as hell and I put great stock in what she thinks, I did - all three of his books from the library.

And today ...

I finally caved in to my yearly, autumn urge and bought wool and a knitting pattern ... and now my itching, knitting-happy fingers are glad little digits. A striped, hooded jacket for a baby size 0 - 3 months coming up.

One of the colours for the stripes is a butternut yellow - I wonder if Dinzie's 'Day of the Pumpkin' influenced my choice?

... and had a coffee with a friend. We looked at photos she had on her laptop. Because we were enjoying the sun at an outside table, we had to peer hard, trying to screen out the bright light.
After that I took a bus to the Warehouse and downloaded photos of S&E's wedding in January. How good to feel the weight of actual photos in my hands. But I do miss having the negatives. Nothing like a good negative.

... then walked home, sweating in the heat. I felt like a loaded down pack horse I had so much to carry - I had taken all my Grandma Brag Books to show my friend and those three, hard-backed McLarty books didn't help.


The weather lately has been warm and deep. As if autumn's full of the peace that comes before time runs out. I remind myself not to fret about things (like staff meetings and long, grey days) that haven't happened yet.

Our Great-Aunt clock has just chimed midnight.
Today is now officially over.
Long live tomorrow.


Sunday, 19 April 2009

Clear Air

The New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre, co-directed by Poet Laureate Michele Leggott and Brian Flaherty, presents tributes to the late Ruth Dallas.
Go here to see tributes to the marvellous poet, Ruth Dallas who died about this time a year ago. (You will see my tribute if you click on number 6 at the top; although there does seem to be a problem with the buffering. Maybe our network provider's slow - but at least you can hear me even if I am freeze-framed.)
For another clip of me reading that some of you may be able to download - it's big - go here.
The tributes have been posted by the tireless, dynamo David Howard on Beattie's Book Blog (and a plug here for Graham Beattie's fantastic resource for writers with articles and reviews posted daily from magazines and newspapers from all over the planet ... I don't know how he does it so faithfully and reliably, but I am certainly glad he does.)


We went to an ice hockey game here in Dunedin on Thursday night. The game was the final of an international third grade competition, and it was between New Zealand and Ireland. We won! Robert and I were astounded that we couldn't find anywhere any announcement about the competition being on, or even about the fact that NZ made it to the final.
Anyway we enjoyed being part of a very large and enthusiastic crowd watching a swift game full of energy and skill - even if our bottoms got verrrry cold sitting on the concrete seats.
Another sporty piece of news - my niece made it into the NZ women's softball team. Congratulations Nicole!

Hearing one of my brothers on the phone last night helps me (as it always does) to remember my father's voice. When you lose your father at a young age, it's things like forgetting his voice, his face, that hurt the most. But as long as my brothers are around, my memory is jogged as to what Dad looked and sounded like.

cold, clear air

At the end of the day
in socks, the cold, clear smell
of fresh air still on him, Dad
had his way of arriving back;
the glass of water he'd gulp,
the hanky tugged out from his pocket,
the way he'd lean back
against the nearest doorpost
to rub and scratch the itch,
or ache, between his shoulders.

Once after seeing me on the floor
poring over the world map
I bought with my own money,
trying to find Luxemburg,
he laughed and teased
saying, "Can't wait to leave?"
How could he know then
that he would be the one,
dying long before
I could ever leave him?

Kay McKenzie Cooke


I have my next pile of books sorted and ready for reading. Not having the spare cash right now to buy books - much as I'd like to as there are so many people recommending some great books (stop doing that people!) - I am instead going through my bookshelves to find books to read again.
I have already spent an enjoyable few hours reading Jenny Bornholdt's 'Summer' and Rachel Bush's 'Hungry Woman'.


Friday, 10 April 2009

Slow-Moving Grasshopper

I found this little fellow by our clothesline this afternoon. Going by his sluggishness, he was probably feeling the cold, making it easier to get up close and personal.

Speaking of grasshoppers ... which to my mind isn't totally a non sequiter ... a plug for our son S's blog from Kyoto  It is great to see him back blogging again. I know as his mother I am biased, but he does write interesting posts. Drop in and pay him a visit.

A fine Good Friday. Good enough reason for a fine picnic at a fine spot. We chose Truby King Park at Seacliff. 

If you have read New Zealand writer Janet Frame's autobiography 'Angels at My Table', you may know Seacliff was where (in the 1940s, I believe) a young Frame spent some time in a large (and going by historical pictures of the place) a rather ugly and imposing hospital for mental patients. She had been misdiagnosed, and narrowly escaped being lobotomised due largely to the discovery by medical staff that she was an emerging writer.
Today there is no trace of the notorious hospital and Seacliff appears now to be a peaceful, secluded settlement. The road snakes around the railway line (I think we crossed it about four times) and houses are tucked away in the bush up steep driveways. Seacliff is named for the steep cliffs it is perched above and the ocean is a distant smudge.

We picnicked at a spot near the remains of a house's foundations. For a couple of lazy minutes, I tried to imagine the house as it must have been. Robert vaguely paced out what would have been the front door, porch etc. It appeared that we were probably sitting on what was once the front lawn. For an instant I tried to place back the layers that time had peeled away, but found it too slippery and hazy a task. I'm no ghost buster.

Besides, the realities of hearty picnic fare was a far more tantalising prospect. 'McDinzie's Tomato Relish' was put to good use with the bread and cheese. A good Ploughman's Lunch. (Eat your heart out Thomas Gray et al.)

Monday, 6 April 2009

Crumpled and Rumpled

Some of the sunflowers gamely growing at work are getting old and cold now that autumn is well and truly into its stride.
Some of the later, younger ones are so desperate for sun, they've become elongated skinnymalinks, with noticeably smaller flower heads. They are like the runts of the litter. Now if we must moralise (and I think we are beholden to in the case of sunflowers, whose very existence is a moral seeing as they are prime examples of circadian rhythms; now maybe that doesn't exactly make sense, but today I am not in the mood for reason) the moral of a skinny sunflower would likely be that 'lie-a-beds do not profit'.

Crumpled and rumpled, the older sunflowers are beginning to whither and droop in front of our eyes. The black seeds are drying to grey. Their sunflower-beauty is fading, their heavy heads flopping.

"Doesn't that sunflower there look grumpy?" one of my co-workers commented.
I agree, it has a distinct Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street look about it. You'd be grumpy too if you could feel your once-youthful vigour draining away. Believe me.

The work I do with infants and toddlers is physically and emotionally draining. I was arriving home at nights utterly exhausted. Writing has been out of the question, as I needed all weekend to recover. A full week was becoming too much. When I handed in my resignation, with the aim to work from home doing home-based care, my boss came up with a proposition: drop to four days a week until July, when with a proposed staff change, I would be able to cut that back farther to working only three days a week. Of course it is a fianancial cut for me, but for the sake of my physical state, and just as importantly, my writing, I accepted.
I now have Mondays off, which I have strictly tagged as my Writing Day.
I can't believe that it is over a week ago that we went along to Dunedin's first ever Pecha Kucha night. Haven't heard of a Pecha Kucha night? Well, neither had I until artist and writer, Claire Beynon, let us know that there was an event organised here in Dunedin, and she was in it. Go Here for a treat - a transcript of Claire's very special presentation and photos. Beautiful, other-worldly shots of the ice and other weather-sculptured features of that awesome continent; Antarctica. Claire has an impressive way of capturing a detail; her eye picks out beauty otherwise missed by the rest of us who merely glance over things, and then she has the gift of being able to exquisitely describe and translate what we are looking at. The world is a transformed, wondrous place when viewed through Claire's non-jaundiced eyes.
Pecha Kucha is Japanese for 'Chit Chat', and is principally a description of the kind of chatter teenage girls indulge in. Starting in Japan, Pecha Kucha is a phenomenon that is spreading like wildfire throughout the world. I guarantee, there will be one near you! (On their website you can look at the sidebar list of April's up-and- coming events, and check if there's one on near you.)
At the Art Gallery in Dunedin, we enjoyed a high-interest-packed time with twelve speakers (artists, architects, sculptors, dancers ... to name a few) talking about their passions, with a screen showing photos to back up their words. Each speaker has twenty seconds to present each of their twenty pictures or images. There was humour and beauty; the quixotic mixed in with the normal and familiar (such as an ordinary, but well-loved-all-the-same, vege. garden.)
At the moment writing-wise I am working on a long poem. The poem is made up of a series of short poems able to be read on their own and still make sense. A little bit like Lego bricks. Whether the bricks are the same colour, I'm not sure.
I am getting a pile of work together (mainly poetry) that can be sent out. It is years since I sent anything out - apart from the Monday's Poem in our local newspaper, the ODT - and I am feeling very afraid. Rejections are inevitable. Rejections are cold and heartless. Rejections are the last few thuds of the hammer on the nail you have already partly-hammered in all by yourself; the one that says, "I am no good."


And here's a freshly-baked poem ... still warm ... like a hot cross bun ...

Based on a direct quote, written about what happened; verbatim.


No he says
he doesn’t want to see his little brother
through the fence.

He’s in the Over 2’s
his brother in the Under’s,

by a wooden fence
they can see each other
through. No

he doesn’t want to take us up
on our offer
to say hello through the rails.

No he says, no
he won’t do that
because he says

it makes me feel sad
and it breaks my dreams
and it breaks my rain.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...